April 2020

Seeking Hope

Over the last month or so of confinement, I have actively sought to recognize something positive each day.  Although it doesn’t make the crisis go away, it does preserve my mental well-being; gratitude is an essential component of fundamental happiness.  These are often small things: that the rose bush my children gave me for Mother’s Day is blooming, that the air is cleaner, or that we’re receiving far less junk mail every day.

Although I’m missing out on some work opportunities that I was looking forward to, I find that we’re spending much less, so the economic impact on my family isn’t too stressful.  My children are all still employed, though adapting to modified schedules or exclusively telecommuting.  I’m grateful that they are in positions where that is possible.

That said, I fully recognize that not everyone is so fortunate.  There are many people who are unable to work from home, so they’re either forced to risk their health (and that of anyone in their household), or they are unemployed.  Friends who own small businesses have been forced to close, and some may not be able to re-open for weeks or more.

History has shown that, until we have a vaccine or a cure (likely a year or more away for the former), we will likely be faced with a backlash in the coming months that could be even worse than the current infection rate.  Biological sciences is not my strong suit, so I don’t know if the reason is a mutation of the virus, or simply the behavior of human beings liberated from quarantine.  In the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, it appears to have been a combination of the two.

How will we recover?  While not very uplifting, as the thesis is a decline in how the rest of the world views our country in our response to this crisis, this article plants a seed of hope:

 

Is it time for a new, New Deal?

Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself saying such a thing.  Then again, twenty years ago, there wasn’t such a huge divide between the top 0.1% and the rest of us.

While The New Deal came long before I was born, I recognize that I have benefited from many aspects of it.  Just a couple that come to mind are TVA, which supplies my power and the lakes I enjoy, our interstate highway system, as well as a long list of CCC projects including national parks.

What might a new, New Deal look like?  One of the infrastructure needs that comes to mind is supplying high speed internet throughout the country.  There’s a lot more, but that’s a continuing conversation for another day.

The Pandemic

Wow — my last post was three years ago.  But now, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, I find myself with a bit more time and maybe some extraneous thoughts to purge.  So much has changed since I started this blog; namely, in the beginning I had four children at home, now I have none.  One grandson, born amid the Covid-19 pandemic in Oregon, has joined the family.

Despite the pandemic, I was there.  We arrived early, quarantined for two weeks in an AirB&B, and got to hold and spoil him for a few days before returning home.  It was hard to leave, but I grew increasingly concerned that, had we stayed until our originally planned return, we might not be able to get home at all.

But home I am, with He Who Tames Flying Monkeys, Delta (who is working from home for the foreseeable future), canine Loki, feline Tesla, and avian Georgie.  I have learned that effective meetings can be conducted via Zoom, and find myself wondering why anyone ever has any other kind of meetings.  I miss my favorite waiter at Gallo Loco, which has closed, and I miss Friday evenings at Crafter’s Brew — though I’m most grateful that they’re still open for an hour or so a day for growler refills.  [Helpful hint: 3-liter cranberry juice bottles hold more than a standard growler.]

I still maintain an interest in education, and worry what this greatly-extended Spring/Summer break will bring for the 4,800+ students in this district, that I consider “mine.”  Since my last writing, we’ve gone to 1:1 devices for all students grades 2-12, but elementary students don’t take their laptops home.  Now, with no school, I’m wondering if that’s a mistake.  How many might be playing games in Dreambox (math) if they had their own computers?  Some families have devices the kids can use, but some don’t.  I worry about our teachers, who are having to come up with distance learning for their students, with little or no professional development in that area.  I really worry about the high school seniors, who will graduate — but without the standard trappings of a prom, senior week, graduation exercises, etc.

I wonder why Ruth’s Chris (one of the most expensive steakhouses in which I’ve ever dined) got a bailout, but the local mom-and-pop restaurants that I prefer, got nothing.  I wonder why people who got tax refunds got a stimulus deposit right away, but the people who have to pay (though well within the guidelines for a stimulus check) got nothing.

I wonder if there will ever be such a thing as “normal” again.  I want to go see my parents, but having flown cross-country a week ago, I am refraining until it’s been two weeks.  I’m staying home.